Thank you all who participated in the WENCH giveaway. Anicka Land is the winner! She posted J. California Cooper’s novel, Life Is Short But Wide, in the comments, a quality book that both me and Dawn have read.
I hope all of you will pick up a copy of WENCH and follow Dolen Perkins-Valdez going forward.
For today, I’d like to point to two interesting posts by two practitioners whose work I follow and my thoughts about them. The first person is Skye Jethani. Skye wrote a compelling and inspiring post on his blog a week or so back about perpetuity and leadership. The second person is Michael Hyatt. Michael has transitioned from the role of CEO of Thomas Nelson, and he’s blogged about that decision.
A couple things stand out as I reflect upon the thoughts of these two leaders and their insights. Note that Michael Hyatt has a great and necessary post here that any leader will benefit from addressing “Advice to a New CEO (or to any leader)”. Please read it if you believe you’re remotely interested. Now, my reflections on their two posts.
- Leaders know when to leave even if they choose to stay. I grew up hearing of pastors leaving their churches. It’s still true that countless pastors resign from their churches each year because of a long list of reasons, including things like inadequate self-care, bad economics, conflicts within the congregation, failure of some kind, and so on. I also grew up with some grand models of faithfulness where pastors stayed where they were called. My mentors have many years behind them in one place for lengths of time. But Skye points to how leaders lose sight of ever leaving by connecting perpetuity with success or fruitfulness. When success is tied to a person staying, it’s a setup for the leader’s loss of her or his essential value.
- Focusing on the external is as important as attending to the internal. It takes a severe tension to serve in a church or a company or an organization while being able to see inside and outside. Usually you can’t see both clearly without extreme patience and effort. It takes help and intentionality to attend to the life of a company or (and these two are very different) a congregation. Looking ahead and looking at the immediate isn’t easy. But both are vital. Doing both ensure that we aren’t setting ourselves and our people up for some surprising something that took us off guard.
- Leaving well and at a good time sets new leaders up for fruitfulness and success. Good leaders don’t leave at just any time. They choose to leave. They choose when to leave. I think how we leave–even how we decide to–is an indicator of our relationship to the place we serve. Michael Hyatt says in his post, “I feel that this is the perfect time to make this transition.” Then he goes into a small list of reasons. I think that language is so revealing. It’s not a requirement that a leader sense a “perfect time” to leave, but when he can, it sings many songs about planning, carefulness, and vision.
- Creativity is important. Both of these men are writers, communicators. One thing I value about Michael Hyatt’s change is that it is, in part, based in his desire to be more creative. His role as a CEO didn’t allow for that. Though he’ll still be the Chairman at TN, he’ll have time and energy to create. I don’t think most leaders are looking for ways to create. We’re often swamped with what’s in front of us. Marking space for creativity is exceptional more than anything.
- Good leaders point to accomplishments. Leaders also know that accomplishments are always communal. No pastor or leader or executive works alone. That means that when we list accomplishments, we are also acknowledging the hard work and efforts of others. People who serve a church or in a company because of that place’s vision don’t need gratitude, but they appreciate it. I hope this is something I can learn to do and do well.
- Life is a story. That comes directly from Michael Hyatt. Putting these two posts in dialogue makes me question the stories that church leaders, primarily pastors, tell when we don’t think about the future, when we pretend that we are the “heads” of the church(es). The story that we tell always has another central character. Our lives are stories and we should notice those narratives, attend to them well, and write those stories well.
What do you think?